Conglomeration 2011 was held over the weekend of April 22-24, 2011 at the Crowne Plaza Louisville Airport in Louisville, Kentucky. This hotel is the old Executive West where so many Rivercons were held. However, the new owners have done such extensive renovations that, when we first drove up, we actually weren't sure if we were in the right place.
We arrived Thursday evening, after a somewhat interesting drive (we'd forgotten part of our food and had to make a stop at a grocery store to get replacement supplies -- from now on, I'm loading from a list to prevent these kinds of oopsies). We went over to con registration and asked what the situation was with the dealers' room. They thought the guy in charge of the dealers' room might be up at the con suite, so we headed up there. The con suite was in the same rooms Rivercon always used, and things were already set up, so we grabbed some munchies and talked for a little while.
Then we finally connected with the dealers' room coordinator. Because the weather forecast for Friday was horrible, we asked if it would be possible to load in that night. He was agreeable, and even got us two helpers and an extra cart. Thus we were able to get everything inside in very good time and turned in for the night.
Friday morning we got up to clear evidence of rain overnight, but it was not raining right then. So we ruefully allowed that if we hadn't loaded in the previous night, it probably would've been pouring.
As we set up our tables, we noticed that we didn't have quite all of our merchandise. Apparently I must've missed a box or two while I was loading the van on Wednesday. As long as they're safely in the storage unit, it's not a huge problem.
Once we got everything set up, I got my art onto the art show. While I was setting up my pieces, I talked to another artist who told me a horror story about how badly the hotel had screwed up her family's room reservations -- which meant the con probably lost those room nights. I told her that if I were the paranoid sort, I'd suspect that all these screw-ups were deliberate to keep the con from making its room block. But without hard evidence, I'm willing to go on the precept of never attributing to malice what can adequately be explained by stupidity.
Then the dealers' room opened and we settled in to start selling. I saw several good friends, and we caught up on events. Several people showed an interest in the Historical Lovecraft anthology, which has my short story "Red Star, Yellow Sign." That anthology was so new I wasn't sure if the copies would arrive in time to bring to the con.
I also took some books to be signed by Peter David, the Author Guest of Honor. Because we have quite a few of his books in our stock, I was prepared for a lengthy wait in line and possibly not being able to get them all signed, but I arrived to find almost no line. I let the other person who got there at the same time go in front of me, but when I actually got to the front, Peter David went ahead and signed all the hardcovers and told me to go ahead and bring the paperbacks so we could get them done. While he was doing those, we got into a rather interesting discussion about the nature and status of e-books,which took a very funny turn.
After the dealers' room closed for the evening, we got supper and took a little time to check e-mail, since I'm waiting for news on some story submissions. Then we went to the Xerps party before turning in for the night.
We thought we were going to get a good night's sleep and finally get caught back up again. Instead, we had another thunderstorm system come through and had to scramble to get up and get our laptops unplugged. After that it was hard to get back to sleep.
Thus I started Saturday morning already running on empty, which was not a good way to be. We got down to the dealers' room and got our tables open for business. Then I took a look around the dealers' room to see who else was selling.
Then I went up to the con suite to get some much-needed caffeine. Even after several cans of pop, I was still dragging, which was not a pleasant feeling. It certainly made it difficult to do business, and it made it even harder to sit through the slow periods.
In the afternoon I was supposed to be participating in the group author reading. Because I was a last-minute addition, I was at the very tail end of the time slot, and because we have dealer's tables to watch, I was told not to come until it was within ten to twenty minutes of my slot. Then, just as I was getting ready to go over, a friend of mine comes in to tell me that several of the early people didn't show up, so all the subsequent slots were moved forward, so that when my name was called, I wasn't there (not knowing that things were moving faster than scheduled because nobody had bothered to tell me, as if I were supposed to Just Know by magic), and they went ahead and closed things down early.
That made me so mad that I went ahead and showed up at the appointed time even when I knew the situation, on the grounds that the reality didn't deserve my acceptance (a smart-off line used to good effect by a character in one of my works in progress). Although it was disappointing to lose out on the opportunity to read from "Red Star, Yellow Sign" and maybe sell some copies of Historical Lovecraft, I know sometimes things go wrong. But what I absolutely could not abide was being made to look like I blew it off, just because nobody bothered to communicate to me that the schedule was being moved ahead faster than planned. There are few things that make me madder than being set up to take a fall -- I'll even defend someone who was set up to take a fall and hang the consequences.
The rest of the afternoon went fairly slowly, other than a couple of last-minute sales. After we closed our tables for the evening, we had supper. Then we rested for a while, until time for the parties to start.
There were four parties on Saturday night. The MELO party started first, and featured some good cheeses and a veggie tray, in addition to the usual alcoholic punch and mixed drinks. After that we went to the steampunk party, where the host was showing off a casemodded computer with an on-off switch in the form of a telegraph key. We also visited the "Easter bunny hates you" party and the pirate party, but they both focused on alcohol, so we didn't stay long at either.
The weirdest moment I had during the parties was sitting in one and looking out the window at the lights of Louisville. I was suddenly struck by a memory of how I used to look out at the nighttime lights of Chicago and its suburbs when Capricon was still held at the Sheraton in Arlington Heights. The nostalgia for the Chicago cons was a little bittersweet, since I'd like to get back to them but sales at them just weren't sufficient for us to keep attending.
Finally we headed to bed for the night, since we knew we'd need to get up early to pack our personal stuff and get out of our sleeping room in time to get our dealer's tables open. Of course that assumed we'd actually be able to sleep during the allotted hours. Instead, I woke up in the night and never fell back asleep. As a result, getting up on Sunday morning was a painful process.
Just to make things even messier, when we were ready to carry our personal belongings to the van, it had to start pouring down rain. We finally ended up pulling the van under the canopy to get at least a little protection from the rain.
After we got our dealer's tables uncovered, I went up to the con suite to grab some food. Then the rain had finally slacked up enough that I could bring some stuff in from the van. I also checked with the head of the art show as to how long Sunday sales would last, in order to determine the most advantageous time to retrieve my art.
By that time the dealers' room opened for business, so I hurried back to our tables. We had some last-minute sales, but they were small and less frequent than I'd usually expect. By noon things were pretty quiet, so we started packing because we had yet another line of storms forecast to come through in the middle of the afternoon, right when we'd be loading out.
However, we were doing just enough business that even with both of us packing, we weren't quite ready to load out when the dealers' room closed. Because we did not want to get caught in the rain, I went ahead and moved the van under the canopy, then brought our handcart in and loaded up some books to carry out.
Then we were able to get a couple of volunteers to help, which sped up the loading process. However, in my haste I didn't get things loaded as efficiently, and there wasn't time to repack repeatedly to get the most efficient load. Thus we ended up with more stuff in the middle than when we left, even after having sold a fair amount of stuff.
Usually we will make one final visit to the con suite to say some good-byes. However, with the threatening weather we decided to just get on the road for home without further delay. We went through a fair amount of rain on the way back to Indianapolis, but nothing truly nasty.
Copyright 2012 by Leigh Kimmel
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Last updated October 21, 2012.